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Jewell Returns to Millwall With Improved Town
Jewell Returns to Millwall With Improved Town
Friday, 28th Oct 2011 14:50 by TWTD.co.uk

Boss Paul Jewell will be back at the scene of his first game in charge of the Blues on Saturday when his team take on Millwall at the Den. The Town manager says his side has made progress in some areas in the nine months since then, but not enough in others.

In January, Town fell to a 2-1 defeat to the Lions and Jewell says a lot has happened since then: “I think we’ve improved in a lot of areas but in certain areas we haven’t improved as much as I would have liked.

“But we’ve only been here for nine months and an awful lot has happened in that time, some good, some bad.

“We’ve had some good results, some terrific results, some really poor results. The consistency thing is what we’re looking for and over the last six or seven games we’ve had that.”

Back in January, he says the aim was to avoid relegation, while now the focus is on the other end of the table, albeit without huge pressure to get promoted this season: “I think we’re making progress.

“I said last time we played Millwall that my remit was to stay in the league. We did that but that doesn’t mean the next year we’re going to win the league.

“But we’re looking to improve and if we can improve as each year goes by we’ll eventually get to where we want to be.

“We want to be in the Premier League as quickly as possible, but there’s no team in our league which doesn’t want to get in the Premier League.”

After two below par performances, Jewell is looking for a return to form at the Den: “We have to be better than we were against Portsmouth and Palace to win games but it’s not going to happen [for us every week]. Manchester United lost 6-1 on Sunday, it happens to people, it’s about how you bounce back.

“We have no divine right to win matches. I was listening to Alex Ferguson talking about the Championship the other day and he reeled off a long list of teams which have been in the Premiership who will feel they should be in the Premiership and we were one of about 14 or 15.”

Jewell feels Millwall’s recent results show they shouldn’t be treated lightly: “They’ve won one in 10 and that one was against Leicester, who I still think will go up, and they drew against Middlesbrough, who have done really well.

“Current form or whoever you’re playing or wherever you're playing doesn’t seem to matter in this league because everyone can beat everyone.

“We don’t fear anybody. If we go up there and set up and play I think we can beat anybody. At the same time, people playing Ipswich will think that if they play well they will have a chance against Ipswich. There’s no team that you don’t think you can beat.”

Paul Jewell’s main decision ahead of the game has been to choose who to play at left-back in place of the suspended Aaron Cresswell. The Blues boss has hinted that Mark Kennedy could be the man with the right-sided Reece Wabara an outsider.

Youngster Joe Whight is seen as too raw for a first team start at present, while Shane O’Connor appears unlikely to get a recall having been out of the picture since Jewell came to the club in January.

Ibrahima Sonko seems likely to return to the centre of the defence alongside Danny Collins with Carlos Edwards at right-back. If Sonko isn’t over the hamstring problem which saw him miss the Palace match, Ívar ingimarsson will make his second start for the Blues.

Otherwise, the Icelander will be on the bench with Damien Delaney expected to miss out with the foot injury he sustained during last week’s defeat to the Eagles.

Jewell will probably stick with his midfield quartet of Jimmy Bullard, Keith Andrews, Lee Bowyer and skipper Grant Leadbitter, while Michael Chopra is a confirmed starter up front having returned to the club after his spell in rehab this week.

Jason Scotland has had hamstring and back niggles in recent weeks but could also return to the attack. If not, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas might get the nod ahead of Nathan Ellington having made more of an impression than the former Wigan man during last week’s game.

Jewell may look at including either Lee Martin or Josh Carson amongst his subs to provide him with more midfield variety than was available a week ago.

Millwall, eight points and 10 places behind the Blues in 20th, are likely to be unchanged from the side which beat Leicester 3-0 away last week.

Striker John Marquis is out having undergone a hernia operation while fellow frontman Josh McQuoid could return to the squad after illness. Midfielder Therry Racon could be amongst the subs having overcome an ankle injury.

Boss Kenny Jackett is looking to extend his side’s unbeaten run to four matches: "Our last three performances have had some spirit.

"I hope that Saturday's result gives the players some confidence and some focus to build on that little run. Putting away three goals at Leicester does help too.

“We have two home games now, and our performances at the Den have been pretty good - we've been close in quite a few and had spells in every game where we've been on top.

“We haven't scored enough goals, but it is an opportunity for us coming back against two good sides in Ipswich and Coventry."

Midfielder Liam Trotter moved to the Den from Portman Road during the summer of 2010 after a loan spell, while full-back or midfielder Scott Barron has been with Millwall since being released by the Blues in the summer of 2007. Lions midfielder James Henry was the subject of rebuffed Town offers in the summer.

Mark Kennedy started his career with Millwall, making 46 starts and eight sub appearances and scoring 12 goals between 1992 and 1995.

Jaime Peters, currently on loan at Bournemouth, had trials at the Den and then-boss Dennis Wise was keen to sign him before the Canadian joined the Blues in 2005. Jimmy Bullard was on Millwall’s books as a schoolboy.

The sides are evenly matched historically, Millwall having won 16 games (15 in the league) and Town 16 (13), while 12 (12) have ended in draws.

Last season the teams met three times, most recently in Jewell's first game in January, with the Lions winning 2-1 at the Den.

Tamás Priskin netted the first goal of the new Town era but the home side struck back before the break via Danny Schofield, and Steve Morison scored the winner 15 minutes from the end.

In the previous October, Jason Scotland’s fifth goal in six home league games and a Grant Leadbitter penalty saw the Blues to a 2-0 victory at Portman Road.

Scotland struck what was only Town’s second first half league goal of the season, then Leadbitter sealed it after the break from the spot, Danny Shittu having fouled Priskin.

A month earlier, the teams had met in the third round of the Carling Cup at the Den, the Blues winning 2-1.

Priskin and Gareth McAuley put Town 2-0 in front at half-time with Morison again netting for the home side early in the second period.

Saturday’s referee is Graham Salisbury from Lancashire, who has shown 36 yellow cards and one red in 12 games so far this season. Salisbury’s last Town match was the 2-1 home victory over Crystal Palace in April in which he booked Damien Delaney and Grant Leadbitter.

Prior to that in November 2010, he took charge as the Blues won 2-1 at Sheffield United, booking two players from each side.

Squad from: Stockdale, Lee-Barrett, Edwards, Kennedy, Wabara, Sonko, Collins, Ingimarsson, Bullard, Andrews, Bowyer, Leadbitter, Carson, Martin, Chopra, Scotland, Emmanuel-Thomas, Ellington.

Story syndicated from TWTD.co.uk

Photo: Action Images

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